Sunday, February 25, 2007

Let's talk about Iraq

The decision to invade Iraq has left the region less stable in the short term. It is true that removing Saddam unleashed Iran's ambitions. It is true that terrorist attacks now occur on a daily basis in Iraq, perpetrated by a combination of warring sectarian militias, former Baathists, al Qaeda militants, and possibly Iranian operatives. It is true that this kind of violence did not take place under Saddams Hussein's alternatively murderous regime. Arguably, we have traded on evil for another, or so it would seem.

This author was not in favor of the Iraq invasion, mostly based on the evidence, or lack thereof. Americans were right to question the government's aims and reasoning to go to war. It is true we had not completed our mission in Afghanistan while pursuing Iraq. We still have not completed the mission in Afghanistan.

It is true that when we invaded Iraq, we should have sent more troops, secured arms storage facilities better, done more to stem the looting, and certainly kept better track of the U.S. tax-payer dollars spent, as Paul Bremer's recent testimony in Congress revealed how poorly he managed the crates of cash.

It is also true that Congress, many Democrats included, gave the President authorization to remove Saddam Hussein through the use of military force. Democrats, and many Republicans claim today that they would not have voted to go to war given what they know now. However, the same Congressmen knew full well the potential for bloodhshed with their vote.

Yes, Bush was foolish to declare "mission accomplished" on an aircraft carrier. It was foolish to blithely declare "you are with us or against us." It was foolish to brazenly provoke terrorists by saying "Bring 'em on." It was foolish of the President to allow his secondaries, such as Donald Rumsfeld, to engage in flippant rhetoric, particularly by derisively describing many of our European allies as "old Europe." There is no question that these actions impinged America's "soft power" by inciting enemies, offending allies, and instigating critics.

However, a healthy skepticism about nation-building, pre-emptive strikes, and spreading democracy has descended into a cascading series of Bush-hating diatribes. Unfortunately, the hatred of President Bush (I've been there, too) has morphed into a wholesale, categorical repudiation of his policies. Nowhere is this more self-evident than the debate about Iraq on Capitol Hill.

The dominant news coverage on Iraq has focused on suicide bombings, troop deaths, and civilian casualties. It is true that thousands of lives have been lost in Iraq, with civilians suffering the most. We have lost more than 3,000 American soldiers. Foreign fighters stream into Iraq via porous Iranian and Syrian borders. Al Qaeda has mounted numerous attacks. Revenge killings between Sunni and Shi'a are a daily occurrence.

Of the Good, Bad and the Ugly - It is by far the Ugly which gets the most press. Understandably, because the media needs to sell papers and advertising. The unfortunate, unintended consequence to this situation, though, is obfuscation.

Americans are not getting the full picture. Any attempt to place Iraq in context is often drowned out by another suicide bombing. For this reason, it is thoroughly important that an accurate account of the situation be told, which I can only modestly attempt to do.

There is much more at play in Iraq - and much more at stake - than troop or civilian deaths. Moreover, the facts and figures, when placed in context, paint a very different portrait of the situation throughout the country. The under reported news, combined with analysis, does much more to shed light than banal casualty figures cited daily from AP or Reuters wires.

For example, Bob Simon of CBS recently reported from Iraqi Kurdistan for 60 Minutes:

"Try to imagine a peaceful and stable Iraq, where business is booming, and America is beloved," Simon begins. In Kurdistan, "there are more cranes than minarets, and new malls are being built." Even an Opera house is under construction. Not a single American soldier has been killed in Kurdistan. For that matter, only between 60 or 70 American troops are even stationed in Kurdistan. The region holds boundless promise - English is taught as a second language, not Arabic.

Dr. Ali Sayyed Mohammed, the President of Sulaimaniya University says: "The Kurds will be the best friends for the Americans in this region. Even better than Israel."

Simon then asks:

"So from your point of view, the American invasion of Iraq was a good thing?"

"It was not invasion, it was liberation. Americans liberated the Iraqi people from the dictatorship."
Even Kurdish mosques speak well of the United States after Friday prayers. "We were always friends with America, we are in love with America" a Kurdish man states while interviewed outside the mosque. The Kurds had a long road to freedom, and they are very thankful of the U.S. One one day in 1988, Saddam gassed 5,000 Kurds.

The interview ends with Simon asking Dr. Mohammed "Do you ever feel like you're dreaming?"

To which he replies "Sometimes dreams come true."

This 60 minutes clip is but on example of the good we are doing in Iraq, and the hope that Iraqis hold dear.

NPR news, a well respected, but also left-leaning media outlet that I listen to five days a week, recently reported on developments within the Sunni-dominated al Anbar province: Sunni Sheiks Join Iraqi Police to Fight Al Qaeda

The NPR correspondent, Tom Bowman begins:

“Angered by the brutal attacks by al Qaeda, these traditional leaders are not ordering their men to join the Iraqi security forces.
"Sheiks once worked with al Qaeda militants, or at least tolerated their presence. But when some Sheiks tentatively reached out to the Americans, al Qaeda’s reaction was swift and deadly. Sheiks were murdered – even their children were targeted – beheaded – and delivered to the family doorstep.”
Tribal leaders list some complaints:

“They killed my father, they killed three of my brothers. They killed 14 other sheiks from different tribes.”
Bowman continues:
"Finally, these Sunni tribal leaders had enough. Some two dozen Sheiks banded together last year in what they called the awakening. They signed a document pledging to destroy al Qaeda and said any attack on the Americans was considered an attack on the tribes."

“The insurgents have the upper hand in al Anbar. And we decided we must put our hand together and fight, defeat these criminals.” said a Sheik. The local assistance helps to "bring what Americans don’t have. A detailed knowledge of the people, they can pinpoint the Anbar citizens fighting the Americans, they can pick out a foreign fighter." [They] say their alliance with the Americans have crippled al qaeda in Anbar province.

These reports, this atypical news cannot be simply categorized, it needs a word to define it. Perhaps this kind of news can best be described as "atypical." A better word, more unique and appropriate might be "especial," since we are speaking of something of special note, highly distinctive, directed toward a particular end. This especial news is Highly distinctive news from the media about Iraq that is not common.

Especial news can be found, if one looks:

Mark Steyn notes that "80 percent of the violence in Iraq took place within 30 miles of Baghdad."

Patrick Ruffini also remarks in Shhh... The surge is working, that:
"...something interesting is happening on the way to the "new direction." Early indications are that the troop surge into Baghdad is working. It hasn't been reported on widely, but murders in Baghdad are down 70%, attacks are down 80%, Mahdi Army chief Moqtada al-Sadr has reportedly made off for Iran, and many Baghdadis who had fled the violence now feel it's safe enough to return. The strategy that Congress is busy denouncing is proving to be our best hope for victory."

Time magazine also worries that it's "Quiet in Baghdad. Too quiet."

The especial news keeps rolling in, if you look:

BizzyBlog published an amazing post in January: Iraq and the US: ‘Violent Death’ Stats That Will Iraq Your World

Citing AP figures, US census figures, and figures from the Iraqi government, civilian casualties in Baghdad on a per capita basis are an eye-opener when put in context:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Government officials on Monday reported that 16,273 Iraqi civilians, soldiers and police died violent deaths in 2006, a figure larger than an independent Associated Press count for the year by more than 2,500.

The tabulation by the Iraqi ministries of Health, Defense and Interior, showed that 14,298 civilians, 1,348 police and 627 soldiers were killed in the violence that raged in the country last year.

The Associated Press accounting, gleaned from daily news reports from Baghdad, arrived at a total of 13,738 deaths.

Using the government's figures means that Iraq's violent death rate was 56.49 per 100,000 residents.

Click the link above for further statistics and explanation.

Moving forward with especial news - Alicia Colon of the New York Sun continues along the same lines with her piece Heroes and Cowards:

The total military dead in the Iraq war between 2003 and this month stands at about 3,133. This is tragic, as are all deaths due to war, and we are facing a cowardly enemy unlike any other in our past that hides behind innocent citizens. Each death is blazoned in the headlines of newspapers and Internet sites. What is never compared is the number of military deaths during the Clinton administration: 1,245 in 1993; 1,109 in 1994; 1,055 in 1995; 1,008 in 1996. That's 4,417 deaths in peacetime but, of course, who's counting?


The noted Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff wrote in an April 3, 2003, column headlined "Why I Am Not Marching": "I participated in many demonstrations against the Vietnam War. … But I could not participate in the demonstrations against the war on Iraq." He had learned of Saddam's atrocities again the Iraqi people and said, "If people want to talk about containing [Saddam Hussein] and don't want to go in forcefully and remove him, how do they propose doing something about the horrors he is inflicting on his people who live in such fear of him?" That's a question these protesters fail to address.

Bill Roggio also reports:

Mishan al-Jabouri, the owner of al-Zawraa, or Muj TV, has issued a scathing statement against al-Qaeda in Iraq, and its political front, the Islamic State in Iraq, which is run by Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. The attack on al-Qaeda in Iraq was given by al-Jabouri himself and broadcast on al-Zawraa after several days of publishing items critical of al-Qaeda in its scroll.

Al-Jabouri provides a laundry list of complaints against al-Qaeda and its Islamic State:

• Al-Qaeda in Iraq has divided the Iraqi people, failed to protect the Sunnis and brought the Shia death squads down on the Sunnis by inciting sectarian violencethrough mass suicide attacks. Al-Qaeda has "broken the back of national unity in Iraq and they resulted in bringing great suffering upon Iraqis" by targeting Shia and giving the Shia "the excuse for it to retaliate and go to the Sunni neighborhoods to kill 4 or 5 or 10 times the number that was killed of the Shi'as."
• The Islamic State of Iraq in Iraq (al Qaeda) wants the Sunni groups to "pledge allegiance" to leaders, ministers and emirs whose identities are unknown, including Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.
• Islamic State of Iraq has continued to conduct an extensive campaign of assassination against rival sheikhs, emirs and insurgent group leaders, and in many cases added insult to injury by failing to give the bodies back tot eh families. One of al-Jabouri's own messengers was executed.
• The Islamic State of Iraq has no system of law or justice. "Is this the State you want to establish? To kill people without an accusation, or investigation, without a judge or nothing."
• Weapons and ammunition are being confiscated from insurgent groups that do not support the Islamic State.
• Al-Qaeda in Iraq is intentionally targeting members of the Iraqi Army and police forces, who al-Jabouri and other insurgents believe are acting int eh best interest of Iraqis.
• The goal of the Islamic State of Iraq is to serve as a stepping stone to attack other nations, which endangers the Iraqi people. "We will not allow Iraq to turn into a dangerous place that threatens the countries of the region under any pretext, these Arabs that you have about you, let then go and fight in their own countries and not among us..."
• Because of al-Qaeda's actions the Sunni insurgents not aligned with the Islamic State are preparing to battle with al-Qaeda outside of Ramadi. "I warn you that in areas apart from Ramadi the situation is changing whereby all will cooperate to confront you."

Why should we leave now when we are gaining the upper hand, while al Qaeda exposes itself as an organization of brutish thugs?

The especial news does not end there. While Murtha, Edwards, Clinton and Obama call for withdrawal, Iraqis say the opposite:

Ramadi Shaykhs in No Hurry to See Americans Leave Al-Anbar

That's from Col. Sean B. MacFarland, commander of the 1st BCT, 1st AD which hasreturned to its home base in Wiesbaden, Germany after a 14 month deploymentin Ramadi, where he flipped the majority of Ramadi's tribal shaykhs toour side. "If you talk to these sheiks, they'll tell you that they're in no hurry to see the Americans leave al-Anbar," he said.

While we are asked by Iraqis to stay abroad, Americans diametrically opposed to even the notion that the United States stay one more day are attacking war supporters in their homes. Here is one such individual's rants:

Republicans are Cowards

Who's afraid of the terrorist "threat"? Republicans.

Who's afraid of dirty bombs, airplanes, and anthrax attacks that have the statistically miniscule possibility of hurting you? Republicans.

Who's willing to wave little plastic flags and shed a tear listening to God-awful music by backwards hillbillies who talk the talk and fear everything under the sun?


Face it, the GOP is the party of the cowardly. And all fucking cowards will fucking hang.

Whether he knows it or not, Andrew Stone is quite literally towing Osama bin Laden's line: "Every American man is an enemy to us."

And from January, 2006:

"My message to you is about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the way to end it." [By turning tail and running]

The Pentagon figures indicate the rise in the number of your dead and wounded, let alone the huge material losses, and let alone the collapse of the morale of the soldiers there and the increase in the suicide cases among them.

This news indicates that what is carried by the news media does not exceed what is actually taking place on the ground. What increases doubts on the information of the White House's administration is its targeting of the news media, which carry some facts about the real situation.

Jihad is continuing, praise be to God, despite all the repressive measures the US army and its agents.

On the other hand, the mujahideen, praise be to God, have managed to breach
all the security measures adopted by the unjust nations of the coalition time
and again.

The evidence of this is the bombings you have seen in the capitals of the most important European countries of this aggressive coalition.

As for the delay in carrying out similar operations in America, this was not due to failure to breach your security measures. Operations are under preparation, and you will see them on your own ground once they are finished, God willing. ...announce that the US interference in the world's countries has ended for ever.

Finally, I would like to tell you that the war is for you or for us to win. If we win it, it means your defeat and disgrace forever as the wind blows in this direction with God's help.

If you win it, you should read the history. We are a nation that does not tolerate injustice and seek revenge forever.

Days and nights will not go by until we take revenge as we did on 11 September, God willing, and until your minds are exhausted and your lives become miserable and things turn [for the worse], which you detest.

However, the argument that he avoided, which is the substance of the results of opinion polls on withdrawing the troops, is that it is better not to fight the Muslims on their land and for them not to fight us on our land.

Do you want to give in to this guy? Does he sound like he will give up unless he is dead? But what does al Qaeda want?

Lawrence Wright says:

One line of thinking proposes that America's tragedy on September 11th was born in the prisons of Egypt. Human-rights advocates in Cairo argue that torture created an appetite for revenge, first in Sayyid Qutb and later in his acolytes, including Ayman al-Zawahiri. The main target of their wrath was the secular Egyptian government, but a powerful current of anger was directed toward the West, which they saw as an enabling force behind the repressive regime. They held the West responsible for corrupting and humiliating Islamic society. Indeed, the theme of humiliation, which is the essence of torture, is important to understanding the Islamists' rage against the West. Egypt's prisons became a factory for producing militants whose need for retribution—they called it "justice"—was all-consuming.

Qutb said:

"We need to initiate the movement of Islamic revival in some Muslim country," he writes, in order to fashion an example that will eventually lead Islam to its destiny of world dominion. "There should be a vanguard which sets out with this determination and then keeps walking on the path."

Possibly worse than the primary fanatics are the stealth supporters of radical Islam and terrorism, who depict their support through thinly veiled poetry:

I am for Terrorism, as long as this new world, deeply hates, the smell of Arabs

I am for Terrorism, If this new world, Is equally split between, America and Israel

Yet are we doomed to make the same mistakes as we have in the past? As evidenced by [now] Senator James Webb in this essay from 1997:

It is difficult to explain to my children that in my teens and early twenties the most frequently heard voices of my peers were trying to destroy the foundations of American society, so that it might be rebuilt according to their own narcissistic notions. In retrospect it’s hard even for some of us who went through those times to understand how highly educated people—most of them spawned from the comforts of the upper-middle class—could have seriously advanced the destructive ideas that were in the air during the late ’60s and early ’70s. Even Congress was influenced by the virus.


This so-called Watergate Congress rode into town with an overriding mission that had become the rallying point of the American Left: to end all American assistance in any form to the besieged government of South Vietnam. Make no mistake—this was not the cry of a few years earlier to stop young Americans from dying. It had been two years since the last American soldiers left Vietnam, and fully four years since the last serious American casualty calls there.
For reasons that escape historical justification, even after America’s military withdrawal the Left continued to try to bring down the incipient South Vietnamese democracy. Future White House aide Harold Ickes and others at "Project Pursestrings"—assisted at one point by an ambitious young Bill Clinton—worked to cut off all congressional funding intended to help the South Vietnamese defend themselves. The Indochina Peace Coalition, run by David Dellinger and headlined by Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden, coordinated closely with Hanoi throughout 1973 and 1974, and barnstormed across America’s campuses, rallying students to the supposed evils of the South Vietnamese government. Congressional allies repeatedly added amendments to spending bills to end U.S. support of Vietnamese anti-Communists, precluding even air strikes to help South Vietnamese soldiers under attack by North Vietnamese units that were assisted by Soviet-bloc forces.
The rhetoric of the antiwar Left during these debates was filled with condemnation of America’s war-torn allies, and promises of a better life for them under the Communism that was sure to follow. Then-Congressman Christopher Dodd typified the hopeless naiveté of his peers when he intoned that "calling the Lon Nol regime an ally is to debase the word.... The greatest gift our country can give to the Cambodian people is peace, not guns. And the best way to accomplish that goal is by ending military aid now." Tom Downey, having become a foreign policy expert in the two months since being freed from his mother’s apron strings, pooh-poohed the coming Cambodian holocaust that would kill more than one-third of the country’s population, saying, "The administration has warned that if we leave there will be a bloodbath. But to warn of a new bloodbath is no justification for extending the current bloodbath."


As the shocked and demoralized South Vietnamese military sought to readjust its forces to cope with serious shortages, the newly refurbished North Vietnamese immediately launched a major offensive. Catching many units out of position, the North rolled down the countryside over a 55-day period. In the ensuing years I have interviewed South Vietnamese survivors of these battles, many of whom spent ten years and more in Communist concentration camps after the war. The litany is continuous: "I had no ammunition." "I was down to three artillery rounds per tube per day." "I had nothing to give my soldiers." "I had to turn off my radio because I could no longer bear to hear their calls for help."
For those who had evaded the war and come of age believing our country was somehow evil, even as they romanticized the intentions of the Communists, these few weeks brought denials of their own responsibility in the debacle, armchair criticisms of the South Vietnamese military, or open celebrations. At the Georgetown University Law Center where I was a student, the North’s blatant discarding of the promises of peace and elections contained in the 1973 Paris Accords, followed by the rumbling of North Vietnamese tanks through the streets of Saigon, was treated by many as a cause for actual rejoicing.
There is perhaps no greater testimony to the celebratory atmosphere that surrounded the Communist victory in Vietnam than the 1975 Academy Awards, which took place on April 8, just three weeks before the South’s final surrender. The award for Best Feature Documentary went to the film Hearts and Minds, a vicious piece of propaganda that assailed American cultural values as well as our effort toassist South Vietnam’s struggle for democracy. The producers, Peter Davis and Bert Schneider [who plays a role in David Horowitz’s story—see page 31], jointly accepted the Oscar. Schneider was frank in his support of the Communists. As he stepped to the mike he commented that "It is ironic that we are here at a time just before Vietnam is about to be liberated." Then came one of the most stunning—if intentionally forgotten—moments in Hollywood history. As a struggling country many Americans had paid blood and tears to try to preserve was disappearing beneath a tank onslaught, Schneider pulled out a telegram from our enemy, the Vietnamese Communist delegation in Paris, and read aloud its congratulations to his film. Without hesitating, Hollywood’s most powerful people rewarded Schneider’s reading of the telegram with a standing ovation.
Those of us who either fought in Vietnam or supported our efforts there look at this 1975 "movie moment" with unforgetting and unmitigated amazement. Who were these people who so energetically poisoned the rest of the world’s view of us? How had they turned so virulently against their own countrymen? How could they stand and applaud the victory of a Communist enemy who had taken 58,000 American lives and crushed a struggling, pro-democratic ally? Could they and the rest of us be said to be living in the same country anymore?
Not a peep was heard then, or since, from Hollywood regarding the people who disappeared behind Vietnam’s bamboo curtain. No one has ever mentioned the concentration camps into which a million South Vietnamese soldiers were sent; 56,000 to die, 250,000 to stay for more than six years, and some for as long as 18. No one criticized the forced relocations, the corruption, or the continuing police state. More to the point, with the exception of the well-intentioned but artistically weak Hamburger Hill, one searches in vain for a single major film since that time that has portrayed American soldiers in Vietnam with dignity and in a true context.
As reported in Public Opinion, Gallup surveys from 1966 to the end of U.S. involvement show that younger Americans actually supported the Vietnam war longer than any other age group. Even by January of 1973, when 68 percent of Americans over the age of 50 believed it had been a mistake to send troops to Vietnam, only 49 percent of those between 25 and 29 agreed. These findings that the youth cohort as a whole was distinctly unradical were buttressed by 1972 election results—where 18- to 29-year-olds preferred Richard Nixon to George McGovern by 52 to 46 percent.
This same survey contained what was called a "feelings thermometer," measuring the public’s attitudes toward various groups on a scale of 1 to 10. Veterans who served in Vietnam rated a 9.8 on this scale. Doctors scored a 7.9, TV reporters a 6.1, politicians a 5.2, antiwar demonstrators a 5.0, and draft evaders who went to Canada came in at 3.3.
Contrary to persistent mythology, two-thirds of those who served during Vietnam were volunteers rather than draftees, and 77 percent of those who died were volunteers. Of those who died, 86 percent were Caucasian, 12.5 percent were African-American, and 1.2 percent were from other races. The common claim that it was minorities and the poor who were left to do the dirty work of military service in Vietnam is false. The main imbalance in the war was simply that the privileged avoided their obligations, and have persisted since that time in demeaning the experience in order to protect themselves from the judgment of history.
James Webb, a Marine rifle platoon and company commander in Vietnam, hasserved as Secretary of the Navy and is the author of several novels.

And today, some Congressman, like Jack Murtha, slight our troops by decrying that they live in "palaces" in Iraq, as if they are on vacation.

Michael Moore is not too bashful to say "Cut and Run, the only brave thing to do," while other Congressmen now oppose the surge they were for only a year ago. It's hypocrisy, panderous hypocrisy.

The especial news is out there: American journalists openly and unapologetically use their position to launch pernicious verbal assaults, and call our troops mercenaries, such as William Arkin, from the Washington Post:

"America needs to ponder what it is we really owe those in uniform."

"These soldier should be grateful..."

"...ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them..."

But there is a silver lining, as always. I am pragmatic, which is confirmed by the following comments of John Burns, Baghdad bureau chief for the New York Times for over a decade recently said on Charlie Rose:

I think it's important for Americans to know that despite the price that America has paid and the deaths of American troops and how many was it this weekend? - the Blackhawk crash with 13 dead... a very heavy price to pay - the ordinary Iraqi, believe me, the ordinary Iraqi, and I think the vast majority of them are deeply grateful to us for having got rid of Saddam Hussein, and that's not just the Shiites.


When we [journalists in Baghdad] sit around at our table for dinner... two things to my mind categorize those conversations... you could never say this is lost. You can't preclude the possibility that a change in a number of things, first of all stabilizing Baghdad, an exhaustion of violence that will come sooner or later... and a realization on the part of neighboring countries that there is not much to be gained for them from a slide into complete anarchy and chaos. And the other thing that we talk about is... what is the alternative?
I've never been involved in a story that's quite so compelling, that weighs quite so heavily on the American interests in the world... for my generation... I think this has been the defining moment.

The following is an excerpt from an article by, Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. It is important to note that the over-arching goal of the most radical muslims is to spread Sharia law throughout the world, and establish the Caliphate.

However well-known the Rushdie affair may be, we have arguably missed its larger significance. As D’Souza notes, given that sharia law punishes apostasy with death, “Khomeini’s fatwa against Rushdie was entirely in line with Islamic teaching, and even traditional Muslims could not disagree with the ayatollah’s verdict.” Westerners see the Rushdie case as an attack on free speech, and that it is. More deeply, however, the Rushdie affair was a triumph for the built-in enforcement mechanism that seals off Islam from adaptation to the modern world.
D’Souza gives the example of the Taliban’s notorious execution by stoning of two adulterers. Recently, notes D’Souza, Maulvi Qalamuddin, former head of the Taliban’s Department for the Prevention of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue, defended that stoning: “Just two people, that’s all, and we ended adultery in Kandahar.” By the same token, Ayatollah Khomeini might with justice have said of Salman Rushdie: “Just one writer, that’s all, and we killed off the possibility of a reformist Islam growing up in Europe.” Rushdie may not have been a religious reformer himself, yet the death sentence pronounced upon him sent out a powerful message to any European Muslim who might be planning to lead a movement for reform.

This, while Muslim groups in Britain, for example, are moving to Islamicize their adoptive homeland. And only last week it was revealed that a Muslim man killed his family for "being too Western."

Are these the monsters that we want to placate? Will they simply back down if we withdraw from Iraq? Or will the fanatics be emboldened to continue their crusade on Western values, institutions, and the essential basic structure of our 21st century global world?

The fact is - 292,000 Americans didn't die during World War II for us to lay down to a new breed of fascists. Likewise, 3,000 Americans shouldn't die in vain, (fighting a battle during a longer period than we fought World War II), because a chunk of the country doesn't like the President's Texas drawl, or his pedigree.

Enough is enough.

Once political maneuvering is placed ahead of the nation's interest, the terrorists will have really won. That is the danger that we now face. The average length of active-duty service during World War II was 33 months. My grandfather served 53 months. However, Jack Murtha believes a year is too long. Will Murtha stand up and finally say that we don't have the will, that we are not good enough - not as strong - as our forebears?

How do we allow zealots like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to pronounce "As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map," with impunity? How can American citizens defend such a regime? This is not a slip of the tongue by a flippant politician - these are measured, deliberate remarks intended to shake our will and split us apart.

President Bush is far from an ideal statesman. His management of the federal budget, coupled with an inept, corrupt, Republican Congress, has dug us further in the hole, to such a degree that China provides $1 trillion in reserves to the United States, without which we could not live as we do. Republicans have been profligate; they've gotten bloated and complacent.

Democrats came to power in Congress on a wave of reform, and as such, they have begun to accomplish some good. But those same Democrats should be wary of the consequences if they lead the charge of defeat and withdrawal from Iraq.

It's much easier for Democrats to criticize and finger point from the sidelines. It's easy to pass non-binding resolutions. But the decision to pursue a policy of defeat should weigh heavily on any politician's soldiers. For we may pay less in blood and treasure in the long run if we pull out now, but by showing our enemies weakness, they will smell blood and look to continue this conflict for a long time to come.

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